If you are to have the “ideal existence,” what changes must occur? In Christian thinking, the “ideal existence” focuses on different realities. Some would focus on relationships currently unavailable to them. Some would focus on acquiring things they do not possess. Some would focus on changing undesirable circumstances.

Generally speaking, most American Christians focus on one of two matters [or both]. First, many say the “ideal existence” would involve possessing “things” they do not have. Second, many others would say, “If a certain person changed, my life would be ‘ideal.’

Infrequently will a Christian say, “If I changed, God would lead me toward the ‘ideal life.’” In this society, achieving the “ideal existence” too easily focuses on (a) acquiring things or (b) changing someone else, not on (c) changing me.

Achieving the “ideal life” is rightfully a lengthy discussion. There is no desire for this thought to be an oversimplified view of complex realities. Nor does it want to ignore unhealthy situations that make abuse victims “door mats” for abusers. Basically your attention is directed to consider a view of life held in relatively healthy situations.

First, Christians must examine the accepted concept of an “ideal life”. It is much too easy for Christians to allow society and culture to define the “ideal life” concept rather than allowing God to define that concept. Society and culture’s definition focuses on things, or people perceived responsible for struggles, or lifestyle circumstances.

Second, Christians must realize the “ideal life” cannot be defined as freedom from struggles. Nothing removes physical existence from struggles. Aging, relationship trials, sickness, pain of all types, human shallowness, human arrogance, injustice, and deceit guarantee any form of physical existence shall endure struggles.

Consider one illustration. Jesus told his disciples to pray for those who abuse them (Matthew 5:44, 45). Peter said suffer in a manner that causes abusers to inquire about the hope that sustains you (1 Peter 2:12; 3:15). Consider a Christian behavioral principle: Christian godliness impacts others when the Christian’s focus is on changing who I am rather than on changing (or controlling) the ungodly.

The Christian’s focus is reflected by this prayer: “God, give me the wisdom to understand the kind of person You want me to be. Then help me find in You the strength to be that person.” Its focus is not reflected by this prayer, “God, he [she, they] make my life miserable! Give them what they deserve!”

If I focus on changing my heart, God changes the focus of others’ hearts.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 18 May 2003

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